The new owner of the long-struggling Country Club Plaza is on a hunt for new tenants, but hasn’t made any major plans for reconstruction yet.
EDM Realty Corp. of San Francisco bought the mall at Watt and El Camino avenues last month for a reported $20 million. Erwin Mieger, head of the corporation, said his company plans to do some necessary maintenance on the parking lot and try to fill up the mall with new tenants that serve the surrounding neighborhood rather than the clothing stores that have been its traditional tenants.
The company is compiling a list of logical occupants such as supermarkets, hardware stores and drugstores. But EDM hasn’t released any names, and it could be years before the biggest changes are seen.
“If we could bring it back in two or three years, I would be very happy,” Mieger said. “We really want to revitalize the center so that it serves the community, which I don’t think it’s doing now.”
Country Club Plaza, one of the region’s oldest malls, has been losing tenants for years, most recently to the revamped Town & Country Village just 2 miles away, which added several spaces for big-box stores. The latest tenant to defect is Ross Dress for Less, which is moving in the coming days. At the time of the sale, Mieger said the mall was about 30 percent leased, not counting Macy’s, which owns its own building.
Garrick Brown, director of research at commercial real estate brokerage Cassidy Turley, said there’s only room for two major malls to be successful in the area, Galleria at Roseville and Arden Fair mall, and that Country Club Plaza – one of the region’s oldest malls – will need to make some big changes and become sort of a hybrid between a mall and maybe a lifestyle center with groceries and restaurants.
“It’s really the only way they survive is to completely change that shopping center,” he said.
The plaza was unofficially on the market for two years and was continually losing tenants, Brown said. One of the biggest challenges for malls has been competition from online retailers, but since the Country Club Plaza area has a large population nearby, making the mall into a hybrid could salvage the space.
“If there was karma in the business world, the retail world, that business has been through enough,” Brown said. “But that’s not the way it is.”
A lifestyle center would probably do well, but it’s all about putting the right tenants in, Brown said. Putting in a supermarket is almost necessary and just putting on a fresh coat of paint won’t be enough.
“I think they’ll be able to turn it around, but it might take awhile,” Brown said.
Conrad Hughes, 62, of Sacramento, hopes to see some mom and pop stores put into the plaza. “I don’t want any box stores, I hate box stores,” Hughes said. There is a Walmart across the street from the plaza.
Hughes goes to Country Club Plaza for walks three times a week. He’s confident that the mall will “come alive again.”
“It’s in a vicinity that has very hot traffic,” he said.
Mieger's firm has previously owned other Sacramento shopping centers, including what is now known as Marketplace at Birdcage. EDM primarily owns office, retail and other properties in the Bay Area.
Call The Bee’s Quinn Western, (916) 321-1031.